Lab ecosystems show signs of evolving

2:55pm, February 18, 2003

A test of natural selection among ecosystems miniaturized to the size of flowerpots bolsters the formerly shocking concept of group selection, argues a group of New York researchers.

Group selection holds that natural selection operates on groups, such as diverse ecosystems, just as it does on individuals, to select traits that lead to higher reproductive success.

Previous tests of group selection focused on only one or a few species, explains longtime proponent David Sloan Wilson of Binghamton (N.Y.) University. Now he and his Binghamton colleagues have tracked changes at the level of ecosystems with thousands of species and millions of individuals, all of them in small containers.

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